We are pleased to welcome Brandon Warne to the FanGraphs team. Brandon has written for every Twins publication in existence and a few that haven’t even been invented yet. We look forward to mocking him for rooting for the 2011 #6org, but more than that, hope you enjoy his pieces here on the site.
Every season when All Star voting begins to wind down, and rosters are finalized for the Midsummer Classic, fans begin murmuring the ‘S’ word. It’s an ugly, dirty four-letter word that gets thrown around with little or no regard to who is within earshot, or how the rosters are constructed.
That four letter word is snub.
With 750 roster spots occupied at any given time in the major leagues, and fewer one-in-ten of those players deemed worthy of an All-Star nod, there’s no shortage of these snubs each season. With this dynamic in mind, let’s take a peek at some players likely to be snubbed from their respective All Star squads, and plead for those with the power to make these predictions wrong to do so.
Shane Victorino – CF, Phillies
Victorino’s off to his best season yet, triple-slashing .291/.359/.498 for a Phillies offense that has been markedly poorer than seasons past. Still, the Flyin’ Hawaiian is up against some heavyweights in the outfield in the National League, including top three vote-getters Ryan Braun, Lance Berkman, and Matt Holliday in addition to the NL’s home run leader, Matt Kemp. Add to this the fact that Placido Polanco is currently slated to start at third base, along with teammates Ryan Howard and Chase Utley in the mix at their respective positions (oh, and they have these three pitchers who are pretty good), and it seems likely that Victorino is destined to spend the break at his preferred vacation destination rather than showing off the skills that have enabled him to compile 3.8 WAR.
Mike Morse – 1B, Nationals
With Prince Fielder and Joey Votto posting batting lines that are completely out of this world, and Gaby Sanchez the likely benefactor from the fact that Albert Pujols will need to be replaced due to his forearm injury, the NL would have to be willing to carry four first baseman to get Morse onto the squad. They might do that for a bigger name player, but for Morse, it’s not so certain.
However, Morse has been a revelation for the Nationals this season, as he’s pounded Senior Circuit pitching to the tune of a .300/.352/.546 triple-slash and .383 wOBA. There are definitely flaws in his game, as he fans more than one-fourth of the time while only walking about once every 18 plate appearances. Perhaps once opposing pitchers realize that Morse swings at just about everything (39.8 out of zone swing percentage versus 29.6 league average), fewer balls will be flying out of the park for the former Mariners farmhand, but until then, he’ll likely have to settle for snub status. Again, each team needs a rep, but it’s not hard to envision Danny Espinosa or Drew Storen getting the Nationals pick.
Ben Zobrist – UTIL Rays
Despite carrying the top WAR among all American League second basemen at 4.1, Ben Zobrist checks in at fifth in the balloting behind Orlando Cabrera, he of the -0.6 WAR and .243/.272/.320 slash-line. Still, it’s been a good bounce-back year for the Zorilla, as he’s gained back over 100 of the 250 OPS points he lost in 2010 from the 2009 campaign. Playing primarily at second base has been great for Zobrist’s value, as his .363 wOBA ties him for sixth among those at the keystone, and his fielding has been superlative. Evan Longoria, James Shields, and even David Price all seem like better bets to represent Tampa in Arizona.
Erik Bedard – SP Mariners
Lost behind King Felix Hernandez and Prince Michael Pineda in the Emerald City this season has been the rejuvenation of the once-great Erik Bedard. And while fans are still perhaps holding their collective breath around every turn when it comes to Bedard’s health, he’s held up very well so far this season, fanning 8.7 hitters per nine to place fourth in the AL among starters, behind Jon Lester and his aforementioned rotation mates Hernandez and Pineda. Perhaps the best part of Bedard’s return to glory is that it doesn’t appear to be a mirage either, as he’s only slightly outperforming his xFIP and FIP, and his line drive, fly ball, and ground ball rates are all right in line with his career marks. To put it succinctly, he’s back and for real, but all bets are off when it comes to health. Hernandez and/or Pineda will likely represent the M’s at Chase Field, but a tip of the cap has to go out to the entire rotation, of which Jason Vargas carries the worst current ERA at 3.88. Also worth mentioning: No one outside of their starting five has made a start this year. Better knock on wood, Mariners fans.
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